Now that the kids are out of school, there is an abundance of free time that you’ll most likely look to fill with activities and vacations. With July being Parks and Recreation Month, the International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association and the Voice of Play have chosen several parks in each region of the United States to help plan some fun family road trips for your summer. Take a peek at these national parks—it may just be time to set off on a new adventure!
Many Northeastern states have a rich history because they were among the first to be settled. Take a trip to Acadia National Park in Maine, the first national park east of the Mississippi River. You could also opt to go a bit further down the coastline with an educational journey to the historic Independence National Park in Pennsylvania, home to the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed.
If you live close to Cleveland and Akron, then you may have heard of Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio. Not far from the two cities, this park looks like it belongs in a storybook. Though it offers many of the perks of other parks, like its winding river and hiking trails, Cuyahoga is also home to Music & Arts in the Valley, a series of outdoor concerts right in the park! Take your kids for a walk and relax while listening to some tunes.
If you’re looking to take a trip farther out in the Midwest, check out the Badlands National Park in South Dakota. It might result in your kids desiring to be paleontologists or astronomers, due to the park’s rich fossil beds and stargazing programs hosted by park rangers at night.
In this region (one of the biggest in the country), one option is to head east to Congaree National Park in South Carolina. Whether your family decides to camp out or canoe, the park rangers are ready to assist you. Another option is The Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. Be on the lookout for great views, like Clingmans Dome. This is one of the best peaks to see these views on clear days, but be prepared for the hike ahead.
Even farther to the southwest, try this adventure that “brings the heat.” Hot Springs National Park, in Arkansas, is one of the smallest national parks, and these hot springs are what drew people to the area years ago. Get your kids excited for “bath time” when they see these 143°F thermal pools!
The west is home to some of the country’s most popular parks. Since this area is so diverse, take a chance on a “different” park at Arches National Park in Utah. You won’t be seeing any forests or snowcaps here, but your kids will have the chance to see the striking features of the rocky sandstone mountains against the bright blue sky. If you’re looking for a park closer to the Pacific Ocean, head to Crater Lake National Park in Oregon. It was formed over 5,000 years ago from the collapse of a volcano and the enclosed cavity offers spectacular views of the Cascade Mountains and Wizard Island.
Wherever Parks and Recreation Month might take you, make sure to pack lots of bottled water and outdoor protection. Don’t forget the snacks!
The President’s House Site Memorial at Independence National Park.
Photo courtesy of www.phlvisitorcenter.com
Fall foliage in Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
Photo courtesy of www.nationalgeographic.com
A mineral spring at Hot Springs National Park.
Photo courtesy of www.earthmagazine.org
Several trails in Windows District of Arches National Park are great for short hikes.
Photo courtesy of www.discovermoab.com